A STUDY OF THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH

A Dirge and Lament

Jeremiah 9:17-10:25 SCC 10/23/16

 

GOD WILL DESTROY THE PROUD WHO BOAST OF SELVES BUT FEIGN WORSHIP

9:17-18 The Lord instructed Jeremiah to summon the professional mourners to come forward v 17. In the Ancient Near East professional mourners were used at funerals (cf. Amos 5:16). The Lord wanted these women to come quickly and mourn on His behalf, wailing and shedding many tears v 18. The imagery is of being stricken with excessive grief!

9:19-20 This verse expresses the content of their lamentations. The reason for this mourning was the residents of Zion wailing ruin and shame having to leave the land as captives with their homes destroyed v 19. Jeremiah instructed the professional mourners to teach their daughters how to wail and teach their neighbors a dirge v 20. This is either an allusion that mothers passed on their idolatry to their daughters or there will be so many dead people that more mourners would be needed.

9:21-22 Death is personified v 21. Death had entered homes and palaces cutting off children and youths from the public places. This says death is no respecter of persons even cutting off the next generation. Men would die in the open fields, and lie there uncared for, like dung or scraps of wheat left after a harvest. And like the sheaf after the reaper who hold in his arm what a few strokes of his sickle had cut v 22 then he put it down, and behind him another laborer then gathered. Warnings:

Donít trust in human achievement 23-24

9:23-24 The Lord commanded that the wise and strong and rich should not take pride in their wisdom and strength and wealth v 23. Notice all the things that humans tend to boast in 1. wisdom; 2. Strength; 3. Wealth. But instead, the person should boast because he or she (1) understood and (2) knew the Lord: as a God who loves and practices loyal love, justice, and righteousness on the earth v 24. Truly knowing the Lord implies participating with Him in valuing and practicing these virtues. True piety consists in personal knowledge of God and commitment to those virtues.

Donít trust in religious ritual 25-26

9:25-26 All of the surrounding nations practiced circumcision, but not for the same spiritual purposes as Israel v 25. Jeremiah used an oxymoron to describe the Jews: the uncircumcised (in heart) circumcised (in body). There was no essential difference between these nations and Israel, since they all practiced the superficial requirement of the Mosaic Law, but had not really devoted themselves to the Lord wholeheartedly v 26. Thus, Judah was no better than her neighbors, and could expect punishment.

NB: Pride always places itself against God. Pride says I am in charge and I know better what is good for me. Pride competes with God about who is in charge. It says I am and I will. God sees through that even when we attempt to cover it up with our self righteousness religious rituals and traditions.

 

REPLACING GOD WITH YOUR IDEA OF HIM IS DELUSIONAL FOOLISH PERSUASION

10:1-2 The Lord is communicating; His people are not listening and obeying v 1! He warned his people not to be disciples of the Gentile nations, specifically not to let the celestial phenomena that the nations looked to for guidance frighten them v 2. The nations regarded abnormalities in the heavens as divine signs, and held them in awe, particularly unusual phenomena such as comets, meteors, and eclipses.

10:3-5 The worship of the Gentiles was an empty delusion v 3. They worshipped only wood, cut from the forest, crafted by a tool. As only wood they are nothingness. They decorated their idols with precious metal and nailed them in place so they would not fall over v 4. How ridiculous to worship something that cannot even keep itself upright. These idols were similar to scarecrows, whose only power is to frighten birdís v 5. They could not walk to come to the aid of their devotees. People had to carry them.

10:6-7 The Lord, on the other hand, is unique among the deities that people worship v 6. He is great, and He had a reputation for acting mightily. People naturally fear Him because He is the sovereign over all nations v 7. He is the King who lives forever. Idols are only temporary and destructible. Jeremiah was referring to the universal kingdom of God that exists without interruption throughout all time.

10:8-9 Jeremiah refers to the fact that the Israelites were getting their information and knowledge from a dead stump v 8. They are stupid and utterly foolish to assume otherwise. Gold from Tarshish and silver from Uphaz were used for idols making v 9. Violet and purple are their clothing were expensive dyes in the ancient world. It is simply a way of asserting that no matter how richly or royally they robed their idols, they were still just human-made, inanimate objects! They are all work of skilled men not wise.

10:10-11 The Lord is the true God emphasizes trustworthiness and dependability v 10. Notice the ways God is characterized; there is none like You, v 6-7; You are great, v. 6; King of the nations v 7; the true God, v 10; the living God, v 10; the everlasting King, v 10; the creator, v 12-13; the Maker of all v 16; the captain of the armies of heaven v 16. The Lord is the God who creates, hears, sees, and acts. Idols cannot move, hear, see, or act. They will be destroyed v 11! The Lord controls the earth and makes it quake the idols have no power at all. Unable to endure His indignation the idols are impotent.

10:12-13 This is an emphasis on God as creator v 12 (Prov 8:22-31). His power, wisdom, and understanding were responsible for creating and establishing the universe. He is responsible for the rains and storms, even the lightning, on the earth v 13. He summons the winds from His celestial storehouse with a mere word, and they blow on the earth. Every thunderstorm testifies to the omnipotence of the Lord.

10:14-15 These verses continue to ridicule idols. Everyone who worships idols is stupid and ignorant v 14. Their inability to do anything shames those who glorify them. Idols have no worth. They mock those who make them by their silence v 15. And they are unable to defend themselves, so they perish whenever the true God chooses to humiliate them.

10:16 The portion of Jacob is not like these refers to the God of Jacob. Jacob's name was changed to Israel. Israel is the tribe of His inheritance. God who gave Himself in a special relationship to such an unworthy person as Jacob, is not like the idols because He is the Creator. He adopted Israel as His special treasure among the nations. He is God Almighty the Lord of hosts.

NB: When one does not believe God is in control and has their best interest at heart they do irrational things. They are convinced their perception of reality is correct and what they want is important so they will do anything in their power to accomplish it. They will sacrifice anything in a desperate attempt to have their own way. This is simply a way to pursue the autonomy they crave.

 

THIS DELUSIONAL FOOLISH PERSUASION INCITES GODS ANGER TO JUDGE PRIDE

10:17-18 Pick up your bundle shows that the people would go into exile with only that which they could carry v 17. He was going to send Jerusalem's citizens away soon, as a shepherd throws a stone out of his sling v 18. This would be a very distressing experience for them, but it would bring them to their senses.

10:19-20 The people, for whom the prophet spoke viewed their calamity as an incurable injury that the Lord had inflicted on them v 19. Yet they realized that there was no escape and they had to endure the experience. Jeremiah uses sickness or wounds as a metaphor for sin. Their homes lay in ruins, and there was no one to help them rebuild them v 20. Jerusalem had lost her home and her children.

10:21-22 Israel's leaders, political and spiritual, had foolishly forsaken the Lord and His covenant and their people scattered like sheep v 21. They utterly failed. A great commotion out of the land of the north refers to the coming exile v 22. An invader was coming, who threatened to destroy the towns of Judah so thoroughly that only jackals (or wolves) would inhabit them.

10:23-25 In view of the coming invasion, Jeremiah prayed a man's way is not in himself; Nor is it in a man who walks to direct his steps v 23. This is an affirmation that God is in control of all things. The prophet confessed that people do not have the wisdom to direct their own steps in safe and successful paths. He invited the Lord to correct him, to lead him in the proper way, but to do it with justice v 24. If the Lord corrected him in anger, as the prophet and the people deserved, he would die. The Lord's anger should find its object in the nations that did not know Him, and did not pray to Him but devoured, consumed, and desolated God's people as despicable as the Judeans were v 25. The prophet's prayer to God continues and pleads that He will judge the nations which He used to judge His people.

 

So What?

1. Itís uncanny how irrational world is to eradicate God of Bible from human conscience. Itís an insatiable appetite for autonomy. To be master of our own fate.

2. This propensity to carve out God of our own making is essence of spiritual rebellion. This rebellion against God is disagreeing with God about what is sinful. Acknowledge Godís sovereignty instead.